Cape Town. 230307.Vivian Zilo and her helpers are handing out soup and bread to the community close to an educare centre. Vivian's house burned down last week and dont have a place to work from at the moment. Picture Henk Kruger/Reporter James Tintley/Weekend Argus

London - Children whose parents both work when they are very young are more likely to be overweight, research shows.

A study of hundreds of families showed a clear link between the parents’ working habits and the children’s size, with the pre-school years particularly important.

Child obesity experts said it is vital that parents think about what their toddlers are eating and give nurseries and grandparents strict rules about rationing of treats.

American researchers analysed data from a US study in which hundreds of children were regularly weighed and measured between the ages of two and 15.

Their mothers were asked periodically if they were working and if their partner was employed.

The results showed that children tended to be fatter when a mother or both parents worked, with the effect strongest in the pre-school years and when both parents worked.

Although the differences in weight were small, they increased the longer the parents worked, the journal Social Science & Medicine reports.

Researcher Taryn Morrissey, of the American University in Washington DC, said it can be difficult to parents to balance their work and family responsibilities. - Daily Mail